Not to skip from the very serious subject of Hiroshima's bombing to Hiroshima's signature dish, but that is exactly what I am going to do. You'll probably remember that I made the traditional Osaka style okonomiyaki last September, and it didn't go very well. Reading over that post in preparation for this one it made me laugh, not only because I am a hilarious writer (I now pat myself on the back), but because Hiroshima okonomiyaki are so much more difficult to make. Or at least they should be as they involve many layers and two simultaneous frying pans. In spite of this I went into the process a million times calmer and more confident than the last time. The mind is a mysterious thing.
So what about these layers? Why layers? How layers? Well you shall recall from my last okonomiyaki post, provided you read it, that the Osaka style is a pancake made from a batter that includes cabbage and various other ingredients like green onions and pickled ginger. The Hiroshima okonomiyaki employs layers rather than mixing those ingredients up in the batter. It begins with a pancake (simpler than the Osaka style as it is flour, dashi, and mirin), then shredded cabbage and mung beans on top of that, then pork belly, then green onions, then a little more batter, then yakisoba noodles, and lastly a fried egg. And yes, it is high in calories and very tall.
I will freely admit that a big motivator in my calm attitude going into this dish was that it didn't require the nagaimo yam. You will recall I had a hell of a trial tracking that guy down last time, and would have even more trouble now as Mitsuwa no longer has an online store (I weep to remember those glorious days). The lack of this single ingredient meant that I can get absolutely everything I needed at the grocery store, and I love recipes like that. Where did I get this recipe? From one of my favorite books, Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat. But if you still resist buying this book (why do you resist?) there is a good recipe for this on Justonecookbook.com.
Though I was intimidated by the prospect of building this beauty from the pancake up, I set about it with a confident resolve that was immediately rewarded with a gorgeous okonomiyaki. The scariest part was flipping this stack, but as I later heard myself say while I was editing the video "That was easier than I thought it would be". To which my mother can be heard saying "huh?" and then me shouting "THAT WAS EASIER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE!". You're spared my repetitive dialog by the fact that I mute out the sounds to add music. I also speed it up so if I left the sound in I would sound like a chipmunk. But that repeated phrase pretty much sums up the whole process.
With all those layers you may be wondering how the whole thing tastes, after all can you picture eating pancakes with noodles? Well, never you fear because these were the best darn okonomiyaki I have ever eaten. The flavors went together like a perfectly synchronized chorus and the very distinct textures made it interesting and delightful. I would recommend this recipe to anyone who wants to try a delicious and unique Japanese dish. You will be gobbling it up like you've never eaten before.
Until next time, don't knock noodle pancakes, they're awesome.